Sunday, August 10, 2008

The fortune teller of Xi Shan

One evening last week, we were wandering in the Xi Shan (western mountains) near Kunming. We had time to kill since were taking the 11pm overnight train to Dali. After checking out of the hotel and leaving our bags with them, we had made a day trip to the mountains nearby, a popular tourist destination.

“Hello. You are teacher!” A man seated in a low stool, with some astrological charts spread out in front of him was trying to get my attention.

“You are teacher,” he repeated. “I am fortune teller!”

I was stunned. Not because he had called it correctly (he had not) but at the risk he was taking. I knew he was guessing, but it was crazy that he would play such poor odds in the hope of landing a customer. If I was the fortune teller and saw an Indian guy wearing glasses in a foreign land, my first guess would be that he was in the IT field, that he worked in some office with computers.

“She also teacher,” he said, pointing to Rupal. This guy was 0 for 2. Even if I had any desire to have my fortune told, I wouldn’t go to someone with such an abysmal record.

I shook my head No, to indicate that we weren’t teachers. In fact, at the moment, both of us had no profession, being gainfully unemployed, trying to live out our possibly juvenile notion of trying to get by without working at all.

The man smiled, acknowledging that he had been wrong. He quickly turned his attention to the Chinese tourists, who were, presumably, more tolerant of charlatans.

1 comment:

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